kimberley crofts

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an information and communication designer living in London

Tapestry captions

Tapestries; Their Origin, History And Renaissance by George Leland Hunter

An important feature of many story-tapestries are the captions. In the long, narrow bands of the XIV and XV centuries, they are often on scrolls that frame the personages (See plate no. 329). On many of the immense XV century panels, there are inscriptions at the bottom in Latin or French, with names and other inscriptions in the field of the tapestry. In Renaissance historical and Biblical sets, the Latin captions usually occupied the middle of the top border. In the XVII century, cartouches occupied the middle of the top border and bottom border, the top cartouche carrying a coat of arms or a shadow oval, the bottom cartouche the descriptive caption, with sometimes another inscription in the side border. An extreme example of long inscriptions is Charles V’s Tunis set, with Spanish in the top border, and Latin in the bottom border. On the whole, captions tended to disappear from the panel of tapestries with the approach of the Renaissance, and altogether with the increased dominance of paint style in the XVII century. But a very pleasing feature of Charles Coypel’s XVIII century Don Quixote series are the descriptive captions in the lower part of the panel.

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